Dr. Thomas is a Senior Education Policy Analyst, providing research and programmatic support to the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union. Dr. Thomas manages a portfolio of topic-specific special education, behavior, and classroom management courses within AFT’s Professional Development Program, Educator Academy. She has directed several national campaigns on bullying prevention, school discipline, restorative practices, and autism and special education.
Dr. Thomas represents AFT in a number of federal committees, national leadership and coalition groups, including the National Universal Design for Learning Task Force, co-communications chair; State Accountability for All Students Advisory Board; Atlantic Philanthropies Research-to-Practice Collaborative on Equity and Access; National Academy of Science and Technology; and the former federally- funded National Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Partnership.
Dr. Thomas was appointed to the School Consensus Project Steering Committee, a national, multi-stakeholder coalition led by the Council of State Governments to develop policy recommendations for state leaders on disproportionate discipline systems and reducing the number of minority youth in the school-to-prison pipeline. Dr. Thomas has managed several state, national, and international technical assistance projects – constructed a professional development and certification program for the South African Democratic Teachers Union, designed an in-service training program for educators supporting students on the autism spectrum for the Second Secretary of Education, Chinese Embassy, provided hands-on training and targeted assistance to the US Virgin Islands Office of Special Education, and conducting literature research on peer bullying of students with disabilities for the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, Dr. Thomas serves as an education advisor to the National Adolescent Literacy Council; University of Delaware’s Center for Research in Education: Rethinking Research for Schools; and the University of Oregon’s Center for Equity Promotion (CEQP)project on Positive and Restorative Investment in Discipline Reform in Education (PRIDE): Integrating School-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (SWPBIS) and Restorative Discipline (RD) to Reduce Racially Inequitable Discipline Outcomes. Dr. Thomas is a noted keynote speaker, panelist, and researcher.
Dr. Thomas earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, in Industrial Management and Engineering. She completed graduate coursework at the College of Charleston (SC) in Early Childhood Education, holds a certificate in Urban Special Education, Harvard University, and received an M.A. in Special Education; Trinity University, Washington, D.C. Dr. Thomas taught in early childhood, elementary, and special education classrooms. She completed doctoral studies in Organizational and Education Leadership, University of Pennsylvania, concentrating in the role of targeted professional development in improving school climate and student outcomes in urban communities.